Scale Up Milwaukee this morning hosted its annual Celebration of Growth, recognizing companies that have gone through its programs and achieved additional growth since.
Scale Up is an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee which aims to help existing businesses grow. According to Scale Up, its most recent Growth Accelerator graduates employ close to 1,000 employees, and plan to hire more than 100 in the second half of the year. They hired 150 in the first half of the year.
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So far, 57 companies have gone through four cohorts of the Growth Accelerator, formerly known as Scalerator. The companies reported $250 million in 2017 aggregate revenues and have made more than 750 hires since its 2013 inception.
At the urging of Scale Up Milwaukee executive director Elmer Moore, several companies at the event shared their growth stories.
“We tell growth stories and that’s what we’re going to do today,” Moore said. “You should remember the acronym SCALE: It’s Specific, it’s Countable (we like numbers), it should be Accretive, it should be Lucrative (so it’s profitable), and it should be…Exponential.”
George Keppler, owner of Milwaukee-based Brew City Beer Gear Inc., said the company lost about $370,000 as a result of The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s bankruptcy this year.
“We used it as a rally call at our company to get the troops together and say, ‘We’re going to overcome this in a big way,’” Keppler said. “Our sales are up tremendously this year and we’ve actually financially overcome our entire burden of the non-payment of the Bon-Ton bankruptcy.”
Amanda Baltz, chief executive officer of West Bend-based Spaulding Medical, discussed the growth of affiliate company Spaulding Clinical Research since it participated in Scale Up’s first Scalerator cohort in 2013.
“Scalerator helped us focus in on really two different markets we were going after,” Baltz said. “We grew our clinical research business from that time to this time it’s been maybe 100 percent growth. At that time we were doing $10 million in revenue. We’re doing a little over ($22 million) now. Along the way, we also determined to take that separate market focus and spin out a whole new entity, which we’ve been growing. Last year our sales closed at $1 million and we’ve done $1 million this year, year-to-date, as well.”
The fifth cohort of the five-month Growth Accelerator began in June with 15 new companies.
Scale Up Milwaukee also presented several awards to alumni companies at the Celebration of Growth. They were:
Parts Badger, Innovator of the Year;
Fyxation Bicycle Co., Neighbor of the Year;
Art Flater of Central Office Systems, Owner of the Year;